Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Greater Roadrunner

Erika picked the next stop of our road-trip, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Harlingen, Texas. I knew little about this refuge except that Aplomado Falcons have been released there in an attempt to reestablish them in the United States. I was not expecting the diversity of species we found near the refuge headquarters. The first hint of this entertaining birding was our welcome by a pair of roadrunners at the refuge gate.

I have previously posted on roadrunners, terrestrial cuckoos found across the southwestern United States, from coast to coast (and south into central Mexico). Greater Roadrunners are monogamous, maintain long-term pair bonds, and mutually defend territories. Every spring pairs renew their bond through elaborate courtship desplays involving a lot of male dancing, including his bringing nesting material and food items to his mate (Hughes 2011),

As seen in the bottom photo, adults have prominent erectile crests and dark blue skin around their eyes. The orange postorbital apteria (the skin between the feather tracts) is usually not visible.

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